Williams provides boost, Jazz crush Wolves

Williams provides boost, Jazz crush Wolves

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Utah Jazz had a little trouble getting to their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and few difficulties once they arrived.

Deron Williams had 21 points and eight assists to help the Jazz beat the Timberwolves 109-83 Friday night, shaking off a weather-induced travel delay to win their third straight road game.

The Jazz, who have won 10 of 12 overall, widened the gap in the Northwest Division over third-place Minnesota to 13 games after shooting a season-high 57.5 percent.

"They sat on a plane with food and video games, so they had plenty to do," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "If our guys use it as an excuse, then they are looking to lose."

Inclement weather in Minnesota forced the Jazz to sit on their plane in Memphis for more than four hours on Thursday before the flight was finally delayed until Friday morning. The weather proved to be more difficult than their game against the Timberwolves, whose reserves couldn't keep pace with Utah's subs.

Gordan Giricek made four 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 20 points as Utah's reserves outscored their counterparts 51-23. Matt Harpring added 19 points off the bench, and Paul Millsap chipped in 10.

Kevin Garnett led Minnesota with 22 points and Ricky Davis finished with 16. Craig Smith was the only other Timberwolves player in double figures with 11 points.

"The good thing about this team is even if someone is off one night, we have enough players that someone is going to step up," Harpring said. "Guys are just waiting for an opportunity to play."

Everyone's opportunity to play took longer than expected. The start of the game was delayed by 30 minutes when the basket at the north end of Target Center was nearly 2 inches too high and arena workers were unable to lower the rim. A new basket was wheeled in and the teams resumed warmups 13 minutes after the scheduled tip-off.

Then Minnesota resumed its struggles against the best of the Western Conference.

Three days after falling 91-65 to Dallas in a home game that featured the Timberwolves shooting a franchise-worst 29.6 percent, Minnesota failed to get a point from its subs until Marko Jaric scored on a layup with 1:31 to play in the third quarter. The Timberwolves finished the game with a season-low 25 rebounds.

"Obviously with the mojo we have going right now, these weren't the greatest teams for us to see," coach Randy Wittman said. "We have to keep fighting. That's the bottom line."

Andrei Kirilenko gave the Jazz a 24-point lead, their biggest at that point, when he hit a pair of free throws with 2:55 to play in the third. The foul shots came seconds after Troy Hudson airballed a jump shot, drawing boos from a sparse but frustrated Minnesota crowd. Attendance was announced at 14,759, but there were hundreds of no-shows following a storm that brought more than a foot of snow to the region.

The lead ballooned to 28 in the fourth quarter, as the Timberwolves failed to succeed with Wittman trying out new combinations of reserves.

After the game, players sounded frustrated by the continued lineup shuffling.

"Witt's in a tornado, man," Garnett said. "He's inherited a jungle, if you will."

Minnesota is 6-12 since Wittman took over, after Dwane Casey was fired with a 20-20 record because the team lacked consistency. Wittman has found even less success, and the Timberwolves finished this homestand 1-4.

"Hell, we're in March," Garnett said, "and we still don't have our identity?"

Game notes Utah waived forward Alan Henderson before the game, eight days after acquiring him in a trade with Philadelphia. ... Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said the team is still figuring out what to do with forward Eddie Griffin, who was suspended for five games in January for violating the terms of the league's anti-drug program. The Wolves have been unable to trade Griffin or buy out his contract. ... Minnesota had not lost consecutive games by 20 points since January 24-25, 2006 against Detroit and at Memphis. The Timberwolves had never before lost successive home games by 20 or more points until this week.

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